Houston Estate Planning and Probate Blog

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Will Billionaire Steinbrenner’s Death Inspire Congress to Reinstate the Estate Tax?

Common superstition says that famous deaths come in threes, but the death of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner on July 13 makes four billionaire deaths in 2010.  It’s hard to deny the significance of such events in a year when there is no estate tax.

According to the Associated Press Steinbrenner’s family is set to receive a tax break of “about $328 million” because of the estate tax repeal this year.  This number, along with the millions of dollars saved (that would otherwise have gone to pay estate taxes) by the families of Dan L. Duncan, Walter Shorenstein, and Mary Janet Morse Cargill may inspire Congress to take action on the issue of the estate tax before the year is over. The Washington Post quotes Senator Bernard Sanders of R.I. as saying, “In the midst of this terrible recession, the idea of giving billionaires a massive tax break is obscene... Already we have four billionaire families who are not paying taxes -- Steinbrenner's being the last one. Many billions are being lost. We have to address that reality right now.”

Although there is still some talk of the possibility of the estate tax being reinstated retroactively, most lawmakers and attorneys agree that the further into 2010 we get the less likely this becomes. But missing out on the estate taxes of four billionaires has to hurt, and the members of Congress are not likely to drag their feet much longer.  One way or another, we can soon expect to see the issue of the estate tax become a hot topic of debate in Washington.  Our firm will keep you abreast of any changes to the law that could affect you, your loved ones, or your estate.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Welcome to Our Blog!

Welcome to our blog!  Our firm is dedicated to giving you the best estate planning and probate experience possible;  this means ensuring you are educated about your options, informed of changes to the law, and aware of the consequences of inaction.  Our blog will keep you up to date on all these, as well as inform you of news and developments in the areas of estate planning, probate, special needs planning, elder law, and more. Come back often to or subscribe to our feed by clicking the link in the upper right hand corner to receive regular updates about the issues that affect you, your family and your loved ones.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How to Tell If Your Loved One Needs In-Home Care (And What to Do About It)

It’s not always easy to know—or to admit—that a loved one is unable to fully care for themselves anymore. The signs develop gradually, and aren’t always easy to pick up on if you see your loved one on a daily or weekly basis.  Often it’s the son or daughter who has moved away and comes home for a visit who notices (what is to them) the “sudden decline” in mom or dad’s ability to perform the most basic of tasks.

If you suspect (but aren’t sure) that your loved one may need in-home care, there are a few signs you can look for to help you decide.  The “Right at Home” website has an article listing ten signs that home care could benefit your loved one, and Responsive Home Health has a 3 page questionnaire to help you determine whether or not mom or dad is still just fine at home alone. The signs you’ll want to look for include:

  • Inability to prepare own meals
  • Frequent falls
  • Inability to keep up with basic hygiene such as bathing and brushing teeth
  • Depression
  • Sudden isolation
  • And more...

Once you know for certain that your loved one needs in-home care you’ll have to face the sometimes daunting task of finding (and figuring out how to pay for) the right service.  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal provides some excellent information on how to find the right kind and level of care for your loved one.  For example: does your parent need just a little bit of help with cooking and housekeeping, or is more comprehensive care (such as daily help with bathing, grooming, mobility and medication) necessary? The level of care your loved one needs, as well as what financial resources you have available, will help narrow down your choice of agency or aide.

Always remember, you don’t have to go through any of this alone.  There are a number of dedicated professionals who can help you along the way—including our office. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.  We’re here to help you.

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